Northern Electric—Nortel Networks Collection

Dublin Core


Northern ElectricNortel Networks Collection



The collection is dedicated to the corporate history of  Northern Electric and Manufacturing, Northern Electric, Northern Telecom, Bell-Northern Research, and Nortel Networks.


Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company was founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1895. It's main business was the manufacturing of telephone equipment for Bell Telephone Company of Canada.

In 1914, the Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company merged with the Imperial Wire and Cable Company of Montreal to form the Northern Electric Company.  Although the new company's main business continued to be telecommunication equipment, Northern Electric also ventured into consumer electronics market manufacturing radios, television sets, console radio-phonographs, hi-fi amplifiers, and so on.

In 1971, Northern Electric and Bell Canada formed Bell-Northern Research (BNR) an Ottawa-based telecommunications research and development company. Around the same time, Northern Electric introduced its first electronic  PBX (Private Branch Exchange a private telephone network used within a company or organization) named the SG-1. Four years later, BNR introduced the  SL-1 PBX  which was the world's first all-digital PBX aimed at medium-sized businesses. 

In 1976, Northern Electric Company changed its name to Northern Telecom Limited and the company focused its operations exclusively on fully digital telecommunications products.  Northern Telecom was the first company in its industry to deliver a complete line of fully digital telecommunications products. Its SL-1 became the world’s most successful PBX and, by 1991, the company  was the world’s largest PBX supplier offering its Meridian communication systems line.

In 1998, the company's name was changed to Nortel Networks to emphasize its focus on networking solutions for telecommunication over the Internet and other communications networks.

In 2009, the company filed for bankruptcy protection.


  • BNR: Bell-Northern Research Ltd.
  • WC: W. Clipsham
  • NT: Northern Telecom
  • NOR: Nortel Networks
  • WEC: Western Electric Company
  • WB: items donated by Walter Banks
  • KB: items donated by Keith Brickman
  • HB: items donated by Henry Wiebe
  • GR: items donated by Greg Reynolds
  • ZS: items donated by Zbigniew Stachniak
  • JM: items donated by John Morden
  • RR: donated by Robert Roden
  • SC: items donated by Stanley Chow
  • DC: items donated by David Cuddy
  • Digital Multiplex Switching System DMS-100 schematic diagram, Northern Telecom, 1979-1980 [SC]
  • BNR XMS (eXtended Multicomputer System) workstation with two built-in 8" floppy drives [SC]
  • BNR XMS workstation (prototype?)
  • Two external 8" floppy diskette drives for the BNR XMS workstation[SC]
  • Northern Telecom/Nortel Passport 50 DS1 MVPE module, [GR]
  • Nortel Networks Passport 50 E3A FP module, [GR]
  • Nortel Networks Passport 50 OC3S FP module, [GR]
  • Nortel Networks Passport 50 CP module, [GR]
  • Nortel's 1 MEG Modem, NTEX35AA, [ZS]
  • Nortel Display Phone
  • Northern Electric paper calculator, 1973 [JM]
  • Dual NAND silicon microcircuit, Northern Electric, 1960s? [RR]
  • Northern Telecom Alex videotex terminal, 1988
  • Northern Telecom Displayphone telephone and data terminal, 1981
  • Northern Telecom Displayphone 220 telephone and data terminal, 1987
  • Nortel Europa smartphone [DC]
Corporate Documents
  • Northern Electric Company incorporation documents (original), 1914. [Nortel]
  • Northern Telecom worldwide senior management structure, May 1983, [KB]
  • Northern Telecom Inc., Major Business Units, May 1, 1985, [KB]
  • Northern Electric Organization structure, September 1972. [KB]
  • A file of Northern Telecom and BNR Human Resources publications and documents, 1979-1988
  • Northern Circuit, Northern Electric, Spring 1965. [KB]
  • Northern News, Northern Electric, vol. 44, no. 7 (1969). [JM]
  • The Networks, Northern Electric, September 1973. [JM]
  • telesis, BNR
    issues: vol. 3, no. 2 (1973) [WB]; vol. 4, no. 3 (1975); vol 4., no. 1 (1976) [WC]; vol. 5, no. 2 (1977) and no. 9 (1978) [WB]; vol. 6, no. 1 (1979) [WB]; vol. 8, no. 4 (1981); vol. 12, no. 1 and 2 (1985) [WC, DC]; issues 92, 93 (1991), 98 (1994). [WC]
  • the, Northern Electric, Ottawa, issue 2 (1969), 4, 5 (1970). [WC]
  • Miscellany, BNR, vol. 2, 3 (1987), 4, 5 (1988), 6, 7 (1989). [WC]
  • Printed Circuit, Northern Telecom at Bramalea vol. 18, no. 7 (1991). [JM]
  • Lachine Journal, Northern Telecom at Lachine, no. 5 (1992). [JM]
  • Network news, Northern Telecom, May 1992. [JM]
  • Between-Us, Northern Telecom at Lachine and Laurentian no. 4 (1993). [JM]
  • Protel Technical Notes, BNR, Language Development Group; issues: vol. 1, nr. 1--7, 1980.
  • Data Packet, Data Networks Division, Northern Telecom, vol. 2, issue 3 )198?) [WC]
  • No. 1 Crossbar Dial Telephone System, Photographs, Educational Bulletin No. 2.5, WEC, December 1947. [HW]
  • No. 5 Crossbar Dial Telephone System, Completion of a Call, Educational Bulletin No. 2.5 B-1, WEC, April 1954. [HW]
  • The Step-By-Step Dial Telephone System, Telephone System Training, Lesson No. 3, No. 2.5 B-1, WEC, June 1954. [HW]
  • E.H. Lanham, A Brief Story of the Growth, Evolution, and Expansion of Telephone Systems from the Magneto Era to the Present, Technical Memorandum TM 8161-2-64, Northern Electric, December 31st, 1964.
  • Toronto Works, Telephone Directory, Northern Electric Company, Switching Division, 1 November 1966 [WBr] 1 Nov. 1966. [HB] Preliminary Version, IPSA (29 November, 1970) [WK].
  • Time to switch... SP-1 electronic switching systems, Northern Electric, October 1973. [JM]
  • Datapac: Standard Network Access Protocol, Trans-Canada Telephone System, 30 November, 1974. [WC]
  • Datapac: Overview, Trans-Canada Telephone System, 1974? [WC]
  • Datapac: Four papers presented to the Third International Conference on Computer Communications, Toronto, Canada (August 1976). [WC]
  • An Introduction to GRAPPLE Programming, ver. 4.21, BNR 13490, July 1974. [WB]
  • GRAPPLE Console Users Manual, ver. 1.0, BNR(?), 18 June, 1975. [WB]
  • GRAPPLE Language Reference Manual, ver. 5.10, BNR 13500, June 1975. [WB]
  • Datapac: Standard Network Access Protocol Specification, Trans-Canada Telephone System, 1976. [WC]
  • Datapac: Four papers presented to the Third International Conference on Computer Communications, Toronto, August 1976, Trans-Canada Telephone System, 1976. [WC]
  • W. Clipsham, SL10 Data Network Processor: General Description, BNR, Issue 1, September 1976. [WC]
  • D. Drynan, SL10 Data Network Processor: Trunk System, BNR, February 1977. [WC]
  • Integrated Software Engineering System: Cost-Benefit Analysis, BNR, November 1978. [WC]
  • Integrated Software Engineering System: Overview, BNR, November 1979. [WC]
  • Integrated Software Engineering System: System Requirements Specification, BNR, November 1979. [WC]
  • Introducing a major advancement in the evolution of the telephone: Displayphone, promotional brochure, Northern Telecom, April 1981 [DC]
  • Does your telecommunications system give you access to your internal database? Displayphone promotional brochure, Northern Telecom, 198? [DC]
  • SL-1 Displayphone promotional brochure, Northern Telecom, 198? [DC]
  • Displayphone User Guide, Northern Telecom, February 1982 [ZS]
  • Displayphone User Guide, Northern Telecom, issue 3 [ZS]
  • Displayphone 220 User Guide, Northern Telecom, 1987 [ZS]
  • ALEX Installation Guide, Northern Telecom, issue 1 [ZS]
  • DMS-100 System Description, BNR, 1986. [SC]
  • Writing Handbook, BNR, 1987. [WC]
  • DPN: Data Networking System Reference Handbook, Northern Telecom, 1986. [WC]
  • DMS-100/200 NT-40 Instruction Set, BNR, 1987. [SC]
  • H. Johnson, Object-Oriented Programming in PROTEL (draft), BNR, 1988. [SC]
  • H. Johnson, An Object-Oriented Language Based on PROTEL (draft), BNR, 1989. [SC]
  • DPN-100: Data Networking Reference Handbook, Northern Telecom, 1988. [WC]
  • B. Baker, Multiprocessing Core for DMS, BNR, 1989. [SC]
  • Telephony, BNR, Technical Educational Department, 198?
  • Meridian M4020 Integrated Terminal: Bringing integrated data and voice to the desktop, Northern Telecom, 1985. [DC]
  • DPN-100/500: Data Networking General Description, Release 1.0, BNR, February 11, 1990. [WC]
  • DPN: Data Networking System, BNR, October 1990. [WC]
  • Advaced Telephone Terminals Design: Driving the Development of Next-Generation Terminals, Nortel-Northern Telecom, July 1997. [DC]
  • W.A. Depp and W.H.T. Holden, Circuits for Cold Cathode Glow Tubes, Bell Telephone System Technical Publications, Monograph B-1685, compliments of Northern Electric, 1949. Originally published in Electrical Manufacturing, vol. 44, pp. 92-97 (1949).
  • J.H. Felker, Typical block diagram for a digital computer, Bell Telephone System Technical Publications, Monograph 2046, compliments of Northern Electric, 1952. Originally published in Transactions of American Institute of Electrical Engineers, vol. 71, part 1 (1952), pp. 175-182.
  • Datapac and the SL-10 Packet Switching System: Selected Published Papers, 1976-79, BNR.
  • M. Fridrich and W. Older, Helix: The Architecture of the XMS Distributed File System, reprint with the permission from IEEE Software (May 1985). [SC]
  • N. Gammage and L. Casey, XMS: A Rendezvous-Based Distributed System Software Architecture, reprint with the permission from IEEE Software (May 1985). [SC]
  • Northern Telecom: The Anatomy of Transformation, 1985--1995, Nortel/Northern Telecom (November 1996). [WC]
  • H. Johnson, PROTEL A programming Language for Large Real-Time Applications, publisher: ? (1984).
  • SINC Network Description, SINC Technical Document, Bell/BNR SINC Design Team (October 31, 1974). [WC]
  • DPN Technical Papers 1985-1986, BNR. [WC]
  • W.W. Clipsham, F.E. Glave, and M.L. Narraway, Datapac Network Overview, Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Computer Communication, P.K. Verma (ed), Toronto. 3-6 August 1976; the material includes memos and slides prepared for the presentation. [WC]
  • The BNR Network (197?) [WC]
  • I. Cunningham, Host to Network Protocol for the Bell-Northern Research Network, version 1.2, BNR (October 1973). [WC]
  • B. Clipsham et al, First Level Protocol for a Data Switch, version V, August 14, 1972, CASE: R3777. [WC]
  • C.C. Martel, I.M. Cunningham, and M.S. Grushcow, The BNR Network: A Canadian Experience with Packet Switching Technology, BNR. [WC]
  • N. Dam, D. Schenkel, and W.Prater, Micro-SNAP - An X.25 Microcomputer System, MSNAP-BNR (197?) [WC]
  • B. Hobbs, Chrysalis: Transforming The Way We Do Business, Northern Telecom S321 (September 19, 1991). [JM]
  • 32 photographs of the Northern Telecom constructions at 8200 Dixie Rd. taken between February 23 and December 8, 1987. [JM]
  • Four photographs of the Northern Electric Calgary Cable Plant, 19?? [JM]
  • Various promotional Nortel Networks brochures, 1995--2003. [ZS]

Collection Items

Northern Telecom Displayphone
Historical contextBy Z. Stachniak with input from D. CuddyIn February 1981, telecommunications giant Northern Telecom announced the Displayphone – a landmark office automation product designed to integrate voice and data in a convenient, easy-to-use…

BNR XMS Workstations
Historical Context(by Z. Stachniak)In 1971, Bell Canada and Northern Electric (renamed Northern Telecom in 1976) established Bell-Northern Research (BNR) -- a common telecommunications research and development entity. BNR played a crucial role in…
View all 2 items